Did you know that there are more than 2,000 Indigenous businesses in BC?
According to a new Vancity report, Indigenous entrepreneurs in BC say their annual business revenues are increasing, but they are still facing persistent challenges and barriers.
To ensure the continued growth of this sector, the report recommends that individuals can help by supporting Indigenous-led businesses.
Supporting Indigenous businesses is also a small, everyday act that people can undertake to support Reconciliation.
Here are seven Indigenous businesses and activities in Metro Vancouver and Victoria you can support this holiday season.
1. Satya Organic Skin Care
Recently featured on Dragons’ Den, Satya Organic Skin Care sells a steroid-free, anti-inflammatory organic balm that soothes eczema, dryness, itch and inflammation. Founder Patrice Mousseau created the five-ingredient product after her daughter Esme developed eczema and was prescribed a steroid cream. She knew there had to be another solution, but couldn’t find anything that was effective, non-toxic, fragrance-free and backed by research. She started experimenting in her kitchen and was able to clear up Esme’s eczema with her recipe in just two days. You can purchase online or from local retailers.
2. Salmon n’ Bannock
Salmon n’ Bannock Bistro is a First Nations restaurant in Vancouver, serving wild fish, free-range game meat and, of course, bannock (baked fresh daily!). They use traditional ingredients, prepared and presented in a modern way. The small bistro is a cozy and welcoming place that has scored great reviews online, including a top 10 on Trip Advisor and 4.6 on Google. Plan a holiday dinner or special event here, or buy someone a gift certificate.
3. Skwachàys Lodge
Recently named one of The World’s Greatest Places by Time Magazine, Skwachàys Lodge is Canada’s first Indigenous arts hotel, located in downtown Vancouver. The boutique hotel features 18 guest rooms and a rooftop sweat lodge, plus provides affordable housing to First Nations artists, who work and live on-site. The result is a facility that provides guests with an authentic Indigenous experience while enjoying high-quality accommodations and service. There is also a gallery in the hotel lobby, which features the work of Indigenous artists from Vancouver and around the world. Consider staying here after a concert, party or other event downtown, or gifting someone a stay.
4. River Select
River Select works with First Nation salmon fisheries to selectively harvest the best wild salmon within BC’s pristine rivers. They take pride in working with fisheries that conserve our natural environments by respecting strict measures around selective fishing and quality control. They offer a wide range of products like candied, smoked and canned salmon, frozen fillets, caviar, lox and salmon jerky. You can order their products through their website and some products are carried at Organic Ocean Seafood in Vancouver.
5. Spirit Works
Spirit Works is an Indigenous-owned, operated and staffed company focused on the creation and distribution of authentic Indigenous products. These products come in the form of traditional cultural pieces such as our respective lines of bentwood boxes and wooden jewelry. What makes Spirit Works distinct is the fusion of West Coast Aboriginal art into everything they create. To accomplish this, on each and every piece, there lies a collaboration with an Indigenous artist. You can shop their online store or look for their products in local stores.
6. Songhees Gift Shop and Café
At the Songhees Wellness Centre in Esquimalt, you will find a gallery, gift shop and café. The gift shop draws tourists and collectors alike with the works of many accomplished Songhees and local artists, and the centre itself is honoured by extraordinary carvings and pieces of art throughout. The Songhees Café serves breakfast and lunch, prepared by the same team as the popular Songhees Seafood & Steam food truck. Consider picking up a present at the gift shop or planning your next meeting at the café.
7. Indigenous Tourism BC
Indigenous Tourism BC promotes and supports authentic Indigenous cultural experiences and artists in the retail and wholesale marketplace. Authenticity labeling helps Indigenous artists to protect and maintain control over their artwork, and to ensure that the artist has been fairly compensated. Look for the Authentic Indigenous logo when you’re looking for Indigenous artwork. Several businesses and galleries featured in this post participate in the program:
- Bill Reid Gallery
- Lattimer Gallery (West 2nd, Museum of Vancouver and YVR)
- Royal BC Museum Gift Shop
- Skwachàys Lodge Gallery
- Spirit Works
BONUS: Cultural activities (and some discounts for Vancity members)
While not all these museums and galleries are Indigenous-owned, they do offer a great opportunity to learn more about Indigenous art, history and culture. You could gift someone tickets to one of these activities, or plan to check some of them out over the holidays:
- Bill Reid Gallery: The Bill Reid Gallery is the only public gallery in Canada dedicated to Indigenous Northwest Coast Art. Current exhibitions feature cultural tattooing and woven artwork, in addition to the permanent collection). Vancity members get 2 for 1 admission.
- Museum of Vancouver: Haida Now, an exhibition featuring an unparalleled collection of Haida art, with more than 450 works. Vancity members get 50% off admission until the end of 2018.
- Royal BC Museum: The Royal BC Museum in Victoria has a number of First Nations exhibits, including the First Peoples Galleries and Our Living Languages.
- Talasay Tours: Talasay Tours offers authentic Indigenous cultural and eco-tourism experiences in and around Vancouver, Squamish and the Sunshine Coast. The Talking Trees Tour in Stanley Park is a great one to start with.
- Vancouver Art Gallery: Dana Claxton: Fringing the Cube, the first exhibition to survey the career of Vancouver-based Hunkpapa Lakota (Sioux) artist Dana Claxton. Through photography, video, text-based work and documentation of her performances, Claxton investigates notions of Indigenous identity, beauty, gender and the body.